US general’s surprise Lebanon visit ties Israel’s hands against Hizballah

The US Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus, soon to be promoted to Central Command chief, arrived unannounced in Lebanon on Wed. Aug 6. debkafile‘s military sources report that he came to check out the strategic ramifications of Hizballah’s seizure on behalf of Syria and Iran of two strategic Lebanese peaks, Mt. Sannine and Mt. Barukh. Petraeus also sought the exact import of the Lebanese government’s policy decision of Aug. 4, to let Hizballah stay armed (in violation of UN Security Council resolutions) and continue its war against Israel.
Those sources stress that American intervention in Lebanon closes the door once again on the prospect of Israeli action against this new threat – in the same way as Washington vetoed effective action against Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb and the buildup of Hamas’ war machine in Gaza.
Military sources question the value of yet another Israeli defense cabinet meeting on the crisis building up on the northern border, when Hizballah has been allowed to brazenly flout UN Security Council resolution 1701 of 2006 by taking delivery of quantities of smuggled Iranian and Syrian weapons and redeploying in South Lebanon.
During that period, the Israeli government stood by and failed to interfere with this unfolding menace and Lebanon’s takeover as a Syrian-Iranian outpost.
Wednesday, an Israeli security source ‘”revealed” that Hizballah had amassed 40,000 rockets.
On March 22, 2008, debkafile‘s military sources first disclosed that Hizballah had built up its rocket arsenal to three and-a-half times its pre-2006 Lebanon War stocks. “Some of the 40,000 rockets of Syrian and Iranian manufacture can hit Israel targets as far south as Beersheba, 350 km. away from the Shiite terror group’s launching pads north of Lebanon’s Litani River.
“Not only has Tel Aviv come within range, but Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza can between them cover most of Israel except for its southernmost tip at Eilat. Using these two surrogates, Tehran can therefore make war on Israel and keep its hands clean. End of quote.
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On June 12, the Israeli military intelligence research director Brig. Yossi Baidatz reported that Hizballah had constructed a subterranean storage system, partly in south Lebanon, for tens of thousands of rockets. debkafile‘s military sources added that they had been proofed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards against aerial attack.
From then until now, the Israeli military has not been called upon to take any action.
Then on Tuesday of this week, Israeli security circles were revealed to be at odds over whether Hizballah had already emplaced radar and anti-air batteries on Mt. Sannine – or not yet.
On July 21, debkafile first disclosed exclusively that Hizballah had already deployed them on Mt. Sannine. See this report
Then on Aug. 2, after Israel made no move, the Lebanese Shiite terror group seized a second strategic peak on Mt. Barukh, thus acquiring its first capability to shoot down Israeli Air Force flights.
And still, the Olmert government sat on its hands.
So it is not surprising that Hizballah has moved on to considering how to dispose of a fresh batch of Israeli prisoners from downed warplanes, or that the Iran-backed group was cocksure enough to manipulate the new Lebanese government into endorsing its continuing armed battle against Israel.
Had prime minister Olmert and his three likely successors Tzipi Livni, foreign affairs; Ehud Barak, defense; and Shaul Mofaz, transport – all of whom claim to be seasoned defense tacticians – resolved on proactive measures to curb Hizballah’s march from strength to strength, Israel would have been less susceptible to American pressure on Lebanon and Iran.
Above all, Iranian and Syrian officers and their guns would not now be ensconced atop Mts Sannine and Mt. Barukh.

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